How to stand out in the sea of online applications

  • finding jobs
  • September 23, 2016
The reality is a growing number of job seekers are turning to the internet and online job boards to find a new position. In fact, according to a 2015 Pew Research study, 54 percent of adults have gone online to look for job information, and 45 percent have applied for a job online. Turns out job-seeking Americans are just as likely to have turned to the internet during their most recent employment search as to their personal or professional networks.

Here’s the ugly truth about filling out online applications – most job seekers are taking the approach of sending out as many online job applicants as they can with one generic resume. However, sending out more doesn’t increase your chances of getting hired. Sending out better applications for jobs you are qualified for does. Furthermore, you may risk burning a bridge at an organization by sending an online application for a job you don’t qualify for. Irrelevant job applications was the biggest turnoff for 30 percent of recruiters and hiring managers surveyed by Bullhorn, and 43 percent of them said they would “blacklist” those candidates from any other jobs as well.

The truth about online job applications:
For one job posting, on average, 1,000 individuals will see the job post, 200 will begin the application process, 100 will complete the application, 75 of those 100 resumes will be screened out by either the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) or a recruiter, 25 resumes will be seen by the hiring manager, 4 to 6 will be invited for an interview, 1 to 3 of them will be invited back for final interview, 1 will be offered that job, and 80 percent of those receiving an offer will accept it. 

Source: ERE Media
With so many job seekers applying for a single opening, it’s important you stand out when you submit your application. Here are answers to five common questions people often have about online applications.

To whom should I submit my online application?

Before applying, look for contacts in the organization using your LinkedIn network to see if you know anyone who could assist in submitting you for the role internally. If you don’t have a direct contact, follow up after your application by reaching out to the recruiter or hiring manager via LinkedIn or direct email.

How do I improve the visibility of my online applications?

Even if there’s not an available position that interests you, register and submit your resume within all of your target companies’ Applicant Tracking Systems so you’ll be in their database when they search for candidates. Be sure to refresh your resume regularly, and tailor it to specific positions for which you are applying.

Is there a best way to answer a salary request?

When an online application asks for your desired salary or requests a salary history, you can answer one of three ways:

  • Leave this blank, or enter ‘negotiable’.
  • If required, give exactly as asked. However, companies may make decisions that are not necessarily in your favor based on this option.
  • List your target salary or salary range in every salary box. Then, in the first open text box write: "all salary figures reported reflect my current salary target." While not a favorable option by some recruiters and companies, if accepted, the focus will be on what your expectations are instead of what you previously made.

Wait, there’s an essay question? What do I do here?

If you are required it write an essay, it’s because your potential employer wants to see your writing skills and how well you express yourself. It’s important to take your time and follow the instructions! For example, don’t go off topic in your essay and stick to the parameters provided such as length, formatting and font.

How do I address problems or gaps in my background?

Many people have issues they believe will hinder their chances of landing a job, including employment gaps, job hopping or appearing overqualified. But in today’s job market, these red flags may not be deal breakers, especially when you follow these general rules:
Be honest. Don’t lie, whatever you do. Your shortcoming may be overlooked if you are a strong candidate for the job, but you will be blacklisted if they find out you’ve lied.
Make up for your shortcomings. Emphasize the positives wherever and whenever possible.
Network, network, network! Find someone with a connection to the company, and ask him or her to assist in getting your application to the hiring manager.

Start applying!

Now you know the truth about online applications and how to respond to some of the tough questions being asked of candidates today. Be proactive in your job pursuit. Don’t just apply online and hope to get a response. It’s a good idea to start your online job search by registering an account with your target companies’ career pages. Continue to increase your networking and follow up after submitting an online application in order to maximize your chances of emerging as a top candidate for a position of interest.

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